Chelsea’s Chase of Wesley Fofana Could Set a Dangerous Precedent, Even if It Improves the Squad
At the risk of painting with a broad brush, every soccer team can stand to improve during the summer transfer window. Whether they’re chasing a Champions League title, trying to avoid relegation, or simply hoping to make a run at a domestic cup, building a better squad is never a bad idea. Through that lens, Chelsea chasing Wesley Fofana makes perfect sense.
While the French defender would improve the Blues’ depth, there’s more to a deal than talent and fit. The way Chelsea and Todd Boehly have been going about their business risks setting a dangerous precedent that could hamstring the club in future transfer windows.
Chelsea won’t drop their Wesley Fofana chase, even as the price continues to rise
Whether you’re buying a car, a soccer player’s services, or anything in between, all the parties involved need to come to an agreement. While Chelsea and Wesley Fofana seem to be on the same page, Leicester City isn’t ready to make a deal.
For a bit of summary, Chelsea lost two defenders this summer (Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger) and have been on the hunt for reinforcements. Kalidou Koulibaly is one replacement, and while Marc Cucurella can slot in at center-back, that’s not the Spaniard’s natural position.
With Jules Kounde choosing Barcelona, it seems like Chelsea’s brass has shifted its attention to Wesley Fofana, who has made an impression with Leicester City. The issue, however, is that he’s under a long-term contract, and the Foxes have no intention of selling him at a discounted price.
That reality, however, hasn’t dissuaded Chelsea. The London club has made two bids for the defender, with the second offering somewhere upwards of £70 million (h/t Fabrizio Romano). They’re reportedly prepared to make a third offer, however, which will presumably be worth even more.
Given that Leicester’s rumored asking price is around £80 million, Chelsea theoretically don’t have far to go. Their repeated bids, however, may have put them at a disadvantage, both now and in the future.
While talent is important, Todd Boehly is taking a risk by showing that his Chelsea isn’t afraid of an increased asking price
At the end of the day, talent wins games, and that, in theory, is Chelsea’s ultimate goal. Their behavior during this transfer window, however, may have created a problem for the future.
Like it or not, Premier League clubs are always going to pay inflated transfer fees due to the league’s massive wealth. Big-time clubs like Chelsea will be squeezed even further; everyone, whether they work in football or not, knows that the Blues have plenty of cash to spend.
While that’s already the case, Boehly has shown that his club won’t be scared off by a high price. Even beyond the Fofana saga — while the defender is talented, it’s less than ideal to make three, if not more, ever-increasing bids just because the other party is playing hardball — Chelsea behaved similarly when landing Marc Cucurella.
Manchester City were interested in the Spaniard but decided they were unwilling to meet the rumored £50 million asking price. Chelsea then swooped in. Not only did they exceed the asking price — ESPN reports the deal is worth an initial £56m with a possible £7m in add-ons — but they also sent Levi Cowill the other way on loan. While you could argue that Cowill’s inclusion is a smart way to sweeten the pot without actually giving anything away, jumping to an immediate overpayment probably wasn’t ideal.
Although you could argue that Chelsea’s financial might makes a few extra million irrelevant, the club’s summer business has set a risky precedent moving forward. If clubs know that the Londoners are prepared to circle back and make multiple bids, with each one ballooning to larger and larger prices, there’s no motivation to ever accept the first offer. That will only make it tougher for Boehly, or whatever sporting director he brings in, to easily complete transfers and keep the books somewhat balanced.
Under Roman Abramovich, that reality wouldn’t be much of a problem. The oligarch could essentially fund any deal he wanted. Under new ownership, though, the club will theoretically become more self-sufficient. It’s tough, if not impossible, to do that when the entire world knows you’ll bid against yourself.